For Release November 14, 2007:
HARRISBURG – Senator Mike "Citizen Mike" Folmer (R-Lebanon) today announced he is introducing legislation which would exempt Pennsylvania from a federal mandate requiring the establishment of a national identification card.
"In the post-9-11 era, there is the sense by some that we should strip away privacy rights, if that's perceived as what's necessary to stave off terrorism," Folmer said. "A national ID system will redefine privacy as we know it, create a mountain of new bureaucracy and increase fees and taxes – without making us any safer."
Folmer noted that ID documents don't reveal anything about evil intent. "Even with a reliable list of terrorists, the authorities will miss anyone who is not previously known to be a threat, he added. "The terrorists are patient. They'll do whatever it takes to legally maneuver around whatever roadblocks we put up."
Four states – South Carolina, New Hampshire, Maine, and Montana – have already enacted statutes precluding their compliance with the federal REAL ID Act, passed by Congress in 2005 in response to recommendations from the 9-11 Commission.
Specifically, the federal REAL ID Act mandates that states turn driver's licenses into a national identity card. Under enforcement of REAL ID, state driver's licenses will not be accepted for federal purposes – including boarding an aircraft or entering a federal facility – unless they meet numerous criteria, including:
They must reveal standard information such as full legal name, gender, address, date of birth, photograph and signature.
They must contain a "machine readable zone" that allows for the easy capture of all the data on the ID by stores or anyone else with a reader.
Additionally, REAL ID requires that:
Each state establish the ability to provide all the other states with access to the information contained in its motor vehicle database - creating, in effect, a single nationally distributed database operated by the states.
States retain a digital scan of source identity documents – including birth certificates and Social Security cards – for at least 10 years (or a paper copy for seven years).
The federal requirements under REAL ID would be completely unfunded mandates that would impose a significant financial burden on Pennsylvania. The National Governor's Association, the National Conference of State Legislatures, and the American Association of Motor Vehicles predict that REAL ID will cost states $11 billion. The State of Virginia estimates its compliance costs to be in the neighborhood of $240 million.
REAL ID further threatens privacy rights by opening the door to the empowerment of the Department of Homeland Security to collect biometric data – including fingerprints and eye scans – as well as placing Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) chips in every American's driver's license.
REAL ID offers no controls on what confidential data can be collected from driver's licenses, where and how long it can be stored, and who is authorized to obtain, share, trade or sell that information.
Folmer's legislation is supported by a number of groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and National Veterans Committee on Constitutional Affairs, which are concerned with the privacy repercussions of the federal government having the power to track our whereabouts every second of the day.
Folmer said instead of REAL ID, Americans need to be vigilant, and exercise their right to self-protection. He added that America must get serious about cracking down on illegal immigration.
Also, here is a PODCAST about Senator Folmer's concerns.
Thanks to The Commonwealth Foundation Blog for the tip.